Change could be on the way for neighbours to resolve rows
We take fairness very seriously. The idea of the rule of law is that
everyone should be treated the same. When we talk of minority rights we
think that minorities should be treated fairly and equally. We believe
minorities should be protected from the tyranny of the majority.
I write this because travellers recently bought a piece of land in Eastry.
They have started developing it to live in without planning permission.
There has been, to put it mildly, an outcry. Is it because people don't like
travellers? No. Is it because people think travellers should have
fewer rights than they do? No. It is because they think travellers
should be treated the same as everyone else when it comes to planning permission
and the rule of law.
Villagers are quick to point out that the land in question would never get
planning permission. It's outside the village envelope in
countryside. In view of this they say no planning permission should be
granted. Their argument is that everyone should be treated equally.
It would be wrong for some people to be more equal than others.
For this reason I have called on the district council to apply planning law
without fear or favour. I raised the concerns of the village of Eastry
with ministers in Parliament and I plan to meet the minister to discuss the
situation. Because it is right everyone is treated fairly and all are
treated equally. This, I take to be a fundamental tenet of our way of
Fairness matters when it comes to enjoying your home. It is wrong if your
neighbour moves the boundary and you are stuck with a costly property
dispute. This also makes it hard to sell your home as you have to disclose
disputes like this on sale. So I've been seeking to reform the
system. I presented a Bill to Parliament detailing this reform.
Instead of long drawn-out court battles and costly disputes, there should be a
swift, inexpensive arbitration process. This would ensure that people who
don't have a lot of money are able to protect themselves from expansionist
neighbours. Cases like this are surprisingly frequent. They take a
deep emotional toll. I raised the matter again in the House of Commons
recently and ministers confirmed they are looking at the reform options. I
hope we will see action taken in due course.
They used to say an Englishman's home is his castle. People still want to
own their own home. They also want to be safe and secure in their own
home. To be free of neighbour disputes and able to protect themselves if
neighbour disputes arise. They want to see councils apply planning
permission and enforcement fairly and justly. In Dover and Deal and in
Parliament I am working to see that happen.